National platform to prepare researchers to lead digital health solutions for older adults

A federally funded training platform housed at the University of Toronto will enable students and early career researchers from across Canada to accelerate digital health solutions for older adults with complex health needs.

Early Professionals, Inspired Careers in AgeTech (EPIC-AT) Health Research Training Platform, Powered by Technology and AGE-WELL aging networkis led by researchers from 11 universities and research hospitals in six Canadian provinces

EPIC-AT is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, while it will provide the platform with $2.4 million over six years, while 41 collaborating institutions will provide more than $6.1 million in cash and nearly $4.5 million in in-kind support for graduate students. , fellows and newly established scientists.

“This exciting initiative will increase the number of highly skilled future leaders in research, government, industry and community organizations – people who can get digital health solutions into the hands of older Canadians with health needs faster. and their caregivers at home, in the community and in long-term care facilities,” said Alex MihailidisProfessor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at Temerty School of Medicine and Associate Vice-President for International Partnerships at the University of Toronto.

A Principal Applicant for EPIC-AT, Mihailidis is also Chief Scientific Officer and CEO of AGE-WELL, and holds the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the KITE Research Institute, University Health Network.

The new platform is an extension of AGE-WELL’s world-leading EPIC training program and will provide one-year fellowships to at least 127 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early career researchers at Canadian institutions.

Participants will be equipped to develop, implement and evaluate digital technology solutions in areas such as information and communication technology, telemedicine, artificial intelligence, sensors, smart environments and wearable devices . These solutions will help older Canadians age safely, independently and with dignity in the setting of their choice.

“The pandemic has highlighted the potential for digital health solutions – such as the rapid expansion of telehealth – to meet the needs of older adults, as well as the need for further work in this area,” Mihailidis said.

He welcomed the funding of EPIC-AT and the involvement of so many partners, which include public, non-profit and private sector organizations who will support participant salaries, share expertise, host interns , develop online courses and more.

“Now is the time for Canada to emerge as a global leader in digital solutions in the AgeTech sector,” said Mihailidis. “Canadians are ready and willing to use digital health innovations, and their widespread use would have a huge positive impact on the lives of seniors, their caregivers, and the health care system.

Quick facts about EPIC-AT:

  • The call for scholarship applications will open this spring and will include targeted calls for the BIPOC awards.
  • Successful graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will receive a minimum of $8,000 in salary support, while early career researchers will receive a minimum of $10,000.
  • Exceptional internships, mentorship, and experiential education opportunities will abound through far-reaching partnerships.
  • Stakeholder engagement is essential; platform participants will co-create solutions with seniors, caregivers, medical professionals and others.

The 11 researchers and institutions collaborating in the management of EPIC-AT are: the main candidate named Mihailidis and the main candidates: Nathalie Bier, University of Montreal; Mohamed-Amine Choukou, University of Manitoba; Shannon Freeman, University of Northern British Columbia; Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, University of Regina; Karen Kobayashi, University of Victoria; Bianca Stern, Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care; Heidi Sveistrup, Bruyère Research Institute; Robyn Tamblyn, McGill University; Grace Warner, Dalhousie University; Azadeh Yadollahi, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network.